In what will be the largest series of anti-racism activities in European football, the FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) Action Week in football kicks off today.
Over the next twelve days large sections of the European football family will stand symbolically united against racism and discrimination through the FARE Action Week. Hundreds of football clubs, supporter groups, ethnic-minority initiatives, youth groups and schools have pledged to take part in activities as part of the Action Week, which takes place between 14 and 26 October 2004. Following the record participation of 23 European countries last season, the fifth Action Week will see activities in 33 countries.
Reaching out to Eastern Europe
To mark the recent enlargement of the European Union and raise awareness for problems associated with the discrimination of Roma and anti-Semitism, the FARE network is promoting a number of initiatives in central and eastern Europe. Activities will take place in 16 countries in this region, including EU newcomers Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Latvia and Slovenia. FARE has joined forces with the European Commission to provide financial support for these initiatives.
In Serbia & Montenegro the Action Week kicks off on Friday at a joint press conference with the clubs FK Partizan and FK Crvena Zvezda (Red Star) in Belgrade. Over the two weekends six top-flight clubs and one from the second division are set to get involved. Players will warm up wearing FARE t-shirts and show racism the red card when the teams line up. FARE leaflets will also be distributed at stadium entrances.
Fans get the message across
Ordinary football supporters were among the first to fight for grounds free of racist chanting and extreme-right ideologies. Numerous supporter groups will again be getting involved during this Action Week. In France supporters of FC Metz will distribute 4,000 leaflets and display a 40 meter anti-racism banner at the match against AS Monaco (Oct 16). On the same day Girondins Bordeaux ultras will perform an anti-racism choreography at their topflight match against FC Istres.
In Germany FARE partner Flutlicht has produced anti-racism stickers in association with a wide range of supporter groups and fanzines from clubs such as Werder Bremen, Kaiserslautern, FC Schalke 04, Arminia Bielefeld, 1860 Munich, FC St Pauli and Tennis Borussia. At the match between Hertha BSC Berlin and Bayer Leverkusen the Hertha Junxx fan club will display a banner against homophobia. Many other groups of ultras and ordinary fans will be spreading the anti-racism message across Europe, including ultra groups in Modena, Ancona, Perugia and Cavese in Italy, the Bukaneros Vallekano and the Brigadda Amarillas of Cadiz in Spain, Bröndby fans in Denmark and the ultras of Bohemians Prague in the Czech Republic.
Professional clubs give racism the boot
A growing number of professional clubs and national leagues are joining the week of action. Top Belgian clubs RSC Anderlecht, KSK Beveren, FC Brussels and Sporting du Pays de Charleroi will present “All Different All Equal” banners at their home matches and match programmes will carry anti-racism content. The Belgian Centre for Equal Opportunities is assisting the clubs in these actions. Dutch neighbours PSV Eindhoven are to hold up a “PSV against racism” banner during the line-up and anti-racism messages will feature on the vidiwall. For the first time the Austrian Bundesliga has designated all ten matches of the first and second divisions (Oct 22-24) as anti-racism matches. Ball kids will wear anti-racism Tshirts and corresponding tannoy announcements will be made. The teams FK Austria, SK Rapid and FC Wacker Tirol will present special banners. FARE partner FairPlay. Different Colours. One Game will give out Action Week magazines at several grounds.
On Saturday players will show racism the red card at every match in the highest Slovak division, and children will display banners bearing the words “Football is a game for everyone”. A statement against racism will be read out at every ground. The action is being organised by FARE partner “Ludia Proti Rasizmu” in association with the Slovak FA.